Monday, January 18, 2010

Logismoi, the work of Satan

"Logismoi are much more intense than simple thoughts. They penetrate into the very depths of a human being. They have enormous power. Let us say," Father Maximos went on to clarify, "that a simple thought is a weak logismos. We need to realize, however, that certain thoughts, or logismoi, once inside a human being, can undermine every trace of a spiritual life in its very foundation. People who live in the world don't know about the nature and power of logismoi, That is, they don't have the experience of that reality. But as they proceed on their spiritual struggle, particularly through systematic prayer, then are they able to understand the true meaning and power of this reality."

Kyriacos Markides, The Mountain Of Silence, p. 118

At first the idea of the logismoi sounded strange to me but I am attracted to it. As a psychotherapist I see it all the time in people who have negative thinking and dysfunctional beliefs and thoughts. Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy is a model of psychotherapy designed to help people with their dysfunctional thinking.

In Alcoholics Anonymous they call it "stinking thinking".

Also, in psychiatry there is the diagnostic schema of "personality disorders" which refers to "character traits" and repeated patterns of dysfunctional and self defeating behaviors.

Once I associated Father Maximos' description of the logismoi to these psychological concepts I have a better understanding of what he is talking about. In psychiatry these ideas of negative thinking are toxic and lead to dysfunctional behavior. These are not just thoughts but beliefs which become the motivators for behavior which is symptomatic.

In Unitarian Universalism there is a belief in the right of individual conscience and the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. There also is a recognition that we are a part of the interdependent web and not just fully autonomous independent beings who can function in isolation.

As part of my Roman Catholic upbringing I was talk to guard against "impure thoughts" and to avoid the "near occasion of sin". I don't believe that children and adolescents and adults are taught this any more. Church teaching has been co-opted by psychobabble and "touchy feely" saccarhine ideas of human functioning, but Father Maximos warns that the logismoi can become the tools of the devil and that those leading a spiritual life have a challenge of guarding against the logismoi.

The ideal is to pray ceaselessly and to seek union with God. This can't be done well when we are distracted by logismoi.

As the bumper sticker says, "Don't believe everything you think."

1 comment:

  1. :In Alcoholics Anonymous they call it "stinking thinking".

    It sounds like that term would be quite (in)appropriately used in The U*U Movement™ too David. :-)

    Sorry butt I just couldn't resist that waggish cheap shot.